The Geisel award winning Geoffrey Hayes's Benny and Penny in Just Pretend was part of the inaugural TOON Books line of beginning to read graphic novels that debuted in 2008. The first book starring Patrick, the teddy-koala-like-bear, debuted in 2011. Patrick in A Teddy Bear's Picnic and Other Stories introduced beginning readers to a character who may look cute and cuddly, but on the inside Patrick has the brains, ingenuity and determination of a four or five year old. Kids will appreciate Patrick's logic while parents will appreciate the level way that Patrick's mother and father parent him and get a laugh at the same time. Hayes has quite a way with writing child-like characters that ring true, but just a little bit more than true, making the stories all the more entertaining. To top it off, Hayes is a fantastic illustrator, his colored pencil illustrations as gentle and warm as they are expressive and silly.
In Patrick Eats His Peas, readers are treated to four more stories with this occasionally quarrelsome little bear. In the first story, Patrick refuses to eat his peas, which he calls "little green balls of MUSHY POISON!" He tries hiding them in his napkin and negotiating the number of peas he has to eat until he finally comes up with his own brilliant, if yucky, solution.
Patrick also "helps" out, "takes a bath" and "goes to bed." While I love all the stories in Patrick Eats His Peas, I think my favorite has to be "Patrick Takes a Bath" in which he fights and fights his bath but then, as with all children I have ever encountered, spends hours and hours in the tub, playing games, making up stories and splashing water out of the tub. I especially like the panels where he decides to he needs his goggles so he gets out of the tub and treks to the cupboard. But, the goggles smell funny so Patrick loads up on scented bubble bath...
When I am reading a TOON Book by Geoffrey Hayes, I forget that I am reading a beginning reader book. I forget that I am reading a graphic novel. I get so sucked into the plot and the world that Hayes creates that the format and the purpose of these books is eclipsed by the great stories Hayes tells.
There are plenty more books by Geoffrey Hayes!
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Don't miss my all-in-one review of the first three Benny and Penny books!
Source: Review Copy